When inconsistency firms up as a consistent factor, unpredictability becomes a constant ally. For Kings XI Punjab, this tag of being ‘unpredictable’ has stayed far too long for the team’s own comfort.
After a rousing start, like no other in this year’s Indian Premier League, KXIP has crashed to defeats at the hands of two former winners. On Tuesday, the host will aim to prevent a hat-trick of losses when it faces defending champion Kolkata Knight Riders here.
Strangely, KXIP is the only team that has twice failed to last 20 overs when setting a target. The lessons taught by Chennai Super Kings were obviously not learnt.
To make matters worse, Rajasthan Royals was quick to remind KXIP that there’s more to twenty20 cricket than playing high-risk shots in search of the big hits.
David Hussey has been the only exception in KXIP. The top-scorer in the last two matches is the example the younger members of the team need to follow.
Skipper Adam Gilchrist has taken responsibility for the team losing wickets in power-play and failing to put up enough runs on the board. It remains to be seen how quickly KXIP steadies the ship and manages to maintain its surprisingly decent record against some of the odds-on favourites.
Coach Darren Lehmann has spoken about giving confidence to the talented youngsters in the team by offering opportunities irrespective of the performance, in the early stage of this competition.
The Aussie also made it clear that winning is what matters. Therefore, after fielding unchanged combinations, KXIP can be expected to bring in a change or two on Tuesday.
KKR, like the host, started with a win and lost twice in succession. But Sunday’s resounding victory against Sunrisers Hyderabad must have given KKR the kind of confidence KXIP is looking for.
The defending champion, tipped to make the playoffs, leads KXIP 5-4 in head-to-head clashes. Significantly, it has posted comfortable victories here, by 39 runs in 2010 and with eight wickets to spare last April.
After Sunday’s matches, both teams chose to stay away from practice on Monday. Though these teams are placed among the bottom-four in the points-table, KKR is ahead on confidence.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Gautam Gambhir (C), Manvinder Bisla, Jacques Kalis, Yusuf Pathan, Manoj Tiwary, Eoin Morgan, Rajat Bhatia, Ryan McLaren, Pradeep Sangwan, Sunil Narine, Laxmipathy Balaji, Brendon McCullum, Brad Haddin, Ryan ten Doeschate, Sachithra Senanayake, Laxmi Ratan Shukla, Sarabjit Ladda, Debabrata Das, Iqbal Abdulla, Mohammad Shami Ahmed.
Kings XI Punjab: Adam Gilchrist (C), Azhar Mahmood, Luke Pomersbach, David Hussey, David Miller, Dimitri Mascarenhas, Manpreet Gony, Nitin Saini, Parvinder Awana, Paul Valthaty, Piyush Chawla, Praveen Kumar, Rajagopal Sathish, Ryan Harris, Bhargav Bhatt, Bipul Sharma, Gurkeerat Mann Singh, Harmeet Singh Bansal, Manan Vohra, Aniket Choudhary, Mandeep Singh, Sandeep Sharma, Siddharth Chitnis, Sunny Singh.